According to statistics reported by the Gun Violence Archive, there have been over 43,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S. in the past year. Many of these victims were children and teenagers. The following press release issued on December 14 by the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) strongly endorses the call for a total ban on assault weapons as advocated by members of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Gun control is too rarely thought of as a “life issue” within the Catholic Church, and we hope with the AUSCP that the assault weapons ban will become “the official policy of the United States Bishops, including homiletic and catechetical material to implement this moral stance”—Ed.
Following the July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, three bishops in leadership positions called for banning assault weapons and limitations on high capacity magazines.
Rev. John Heagle, chair of an AUSCP Gospel Nonviolence Working Group, praised the advocacy of the members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, adding, “Our only regret is that this position of the USCCB is not well known among our brother priests and fellow Catholics.”
“It seems there are no days of the year when our nation is not grieving the latest mass shooting. It has not always been this way, and it is getting worse,” said the July statement from Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.
The three committee chairs concluded, “We support a total ban on assault weapons and limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines.”
The priests’ statement, issued December 14, on the anniversary of the school shooting at Sandy Hook, asks the bishops to adopt the weapons ban as national policy and to encourage priests to preach about the issue and to support the legislation in Congress (H.R. 1808). Said the priests, “[T]his is an important opportunity for our faith tradition to renew our moral responsibility for shaping a ‘culture of life’ (to use Pope St. John Paul II’s striking phrase) in all of its dimensions.”
The brief AUSCP statement follows:
AUSCP advocates for a ban on all assault weapons. AUSCP also proposes that the USCCB make this the official policy of the United States Bishops, including homiletic and catechetical material to implement this moral stance. Recognizing the resistance that our priests are facing from certain groups in the gun lobby, we invite pastoral preaching to unite with their bishops in this effort.
For the full release, including a “Proposal Advocating for Ban on Assault Weapons,” see the AUSCP website here.